Tuesday, May 29, 2012

May 28, 1862

May 28, 1862:  Heavy skirmishing continues between the lines of the two armies near Corinth, with some artillery dueling.

---Pres. Lincoln, astute enough to see the exaggeration in McClellan’s claims over the battle at Hanover Court House—and to have a better grasp of the strategic situation--sends this message to the general:

Washington City, D.C.
Maj. Gen. McClellan May 28, 1862. 8.40 P.M.

I am very glad of Gen. F. J. Porter's victory. Still, if it was a total rout of the enemy, I am puzzled to know why the Richmond and Fredericksburg Railroad was not seized. Again, as you say you have all the Railroads but the Richmond and Fredericksburg, I am puzzled to see how, lacking that, you can have any, except the scrap from Richmond to West-Point. The scrap of the Virginia Central from Richmond to Hanover Junction, without more, is simply nothing.

That the whole force of the enemy is concentrating in Richmond, I think can not be certainly known to you or me. Saxton, at Harper's Ferry, informs us that a large force (supposed to be Jackson's and Ewells) forced his advance from Charlestown to-day. Gen. King telegraphs us from Fredericksburg that contrabands give certain information that fifteen thousand left Hanover Junction Monday morning to re-inforce Jackson. I am painfully impressed with the importance of the struggle before you; and I shall aid you all I can consistently with my view of due regard to all points.

---William C. Holton, serving in the U.S. Navy on board the USS Hartford, on the Mississippi River, records this incident at Baton Rouge, as the flotilla is descending the river back to New Orleans:

Everything looked quiet, and the dingey was sent ashore with Chief Engineer Kimball, manned by four boys. On landing at the levee, they were attacked by a body of guerilla cavalry, and immediately shoved off; but the guerillas poured a volley of slugs and shot into the boat, wounding the Chief Engineer and two of the boys. They then scampered off on horseback as fast as they could go, while our boat was picked up by a gunboat which was anchored below us. We immediately opened our battery on them, raking the streets and firing some twenty shots, when the men were with difficulty compelled to cease firing. The excitement on board our ship was intense, and each man desired to see the city in ashes. During the afternoon, several Northern ladies came off for protection, and the Mayor of the city, with those of secesh proclivities, had already skedaddled, leaving the place nearly desolate.

---Charles Wright Wills, an officer of the 8th Illinois Infantry, currently serving with a headquarters staff, writes of the progress of the operations against Corinth in his journal:
We moved up here this morning under the hottest sun and over the dustiest roads, and I then helped the major lay off the camp, and pitched our tents ourselves. Gracious, how hot it was! I worked and sweated and blessed General Pope for ordering us forward on such a day. I’ll wager we are the only field and staff that pitch and strike our head quarter’s tents without the aid of the men. But I can’t bear the idea of making men who are our equals at home do our work here. Soldiering in the ranks spoils a man for acting officer “a-la-regular.” . . . There has been the liveliest kind of cannonading along the whole lines to-day. Our whole army advanced about a mile. I think that at almost any point on the line we can throw shot into their works. Distances vary from one and one half miles to two and a quarter or two and one-half. Many of the generals think that to-morrow there will be a general fight. . . . Many think that Halleck has commenced a regular siege. He has left a line of splendid defences to-day, and if he forms new works on the position taken up to-day, we will know that we are in for a long fight, a-la-Yorktown. . . .

---Four companies of the 9th Illinois Cavalry skirmish with Rebel mounted troops near Cache River Bridge in Arkansas, defeating the Rebels and capturing some.

---Kate Cumming, a nurse at the Confederate Army hospital in Corinth, writes in her diary about the famous Rebel cavalry raider John Hunt Morgan, and the common hero-worship and celebrity culture of the South in the 18th Century:
The weather is oppressively warm, and I do not feel very well; but hearing that John Morgan was to pass, I could not resist the temptation of seeing so great a lion; for he is one of the greatest of the age.  I was introduced to him by Mrs. Jarboe. . . . I then stated that I hoped to hear much of him, and the good that he would do our cause.  He replied that he wished that he might hear of himself twenty years hence.  I answered that if prayer would save him, he would be preserved, as I knew that many were offered up for him, along with those for the rest of our brave defenders.  He is extremely modest.  I paid him one or two compliments—deserved ones—and he blushed like a schoolgirl.  He has a fine, expressive countenance; his eye reminded me of a description of Burns by Walter Scott. . . . He told us about a train of cars which he had captured in Tennessee, and that the ladies on the train were as frightened as if he intended to eat them.  He said, “You know that I would not do that.”  He related a very amusing adventure he had had lately at Corinth.  He made a call on General Buell in disguise.  In the course of conversation with General B., he informed him that John Morgan was in Corinth.  General B. answered that he knew better; that he knew where he was; he was in Kentucky.  Morgan has great command over his features; can disguise himself, and go where he pleases without being discovered.
When the train left, the men gave him three cheers.  He looked abashed, and blushed again.  Mrs. Thornton said that she had rather see him than any of our great men.

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